Dr. M Bah Minister of Education
It would not be an exaggeration to state that the social media is among the major factors responsible for the declining standard of education in modern day Sierra Leone. The social media and its tools could be a good tool to support the educational pursuit of students, but the manner in which it is being utilized by these students, especially without regulation, is counterproductive.
The social media comprises of communication tools, software and databases including Mobile Phones, Computers, Tablets, Facebook, Twitter, Watsapp, Viber, and Youtube, among others.
These tools and software, if adequately utilized, can contribute immensely and effectively towards broadening their educational and social horizon.
On the positive side of the social media, it could be use for researches, exchange of ideas, expansion of knowledge on worldwide activities, among others.
Sadly however, students in Sierra Leone are mostly using the social media for purposes not related to the aforementioned. And the fact that the use of the social media among students is not being regulated or monitored is worrisome and alarming altogether.
To start with, there is no age or status limitation for people in Sierra Leone to access social media tools. It is an open secret that even infants in Sierra Leone have unfettered access to technology and its tools.
For as low as fifty thousand leones, and even below in some cases, anybody can purchase and own a mobile phone in Sierra Leone. As if that is not alarming enough, these cheap and unregulated mobile phones are so sophisticated with social media software and databases including Facebook and Watsapp.
Imagine the type of materials being circulated on the social media including nude pictures and videos plus messages not conducive for children and students and relate that to the reality that students and children have unrestricted access to these tools and materials. Is that not disturbing enough?
Apart from the aforementioned, education in Sierra Leone is seriously threatened by the fact that the children are becoming very much addicted to these social media software, especially Facebook and Watsapp. They spend more time surfing the web than concentrating on their lectures and studies. Even when they are in the classrooms, their attentions are glued on their phones and computers browsing Facebook and Watsapp. Lectures and studies require undivided attention and such could not be achieved with the attention diverter the social media is causing.
The teachers and lecturers seem to care less about this menace, and the least talked about the lackluster attitude of parents and guardians towards monitoring the use of this software by their children the better.
These social media tools are further exposing children and students to anti-social behaviours.
The urgency for authorities concerned to monitor and regulate the use of the social media, especially among children and students cannot be overemphasized.
Parents and guardians must take charge of the homes and their children, while the teachers and lecturers should do same at the schools. These children should be literally forced to comply with acceptable behaviours in using the social media.
By: Abdul Fonti